Microbial Responses to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: From Coastal Wetlands to the Deep Sea

TitleMicrobial Responses to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: From Coastal Wetlands to the Deep Sea
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsKing GM, Kostka JE, Hazen TC, Sobecky PA
EditorCarlson C.A, Giovannoni SJ
Book TitleAnnual Review of Marine Science, Vol 7
Series TitleAnnual Review of Marine Science
ISBN Number1941-1405<br/>978-0-8243-4507-5
Accession NumberWOS:000348560700017
KeywordsOil and Gas Degradation
AbstractThe Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the northern Gulf of Mexico represents the largest marine accidental oil spill in history. It is distinguished from past spills in that it occurred at the greatest depth (1,500 m), the amount of hydrocarbon gas (mostly methane) lost was equivalent to the mass of crude oil released, and dispersants were used for the first time in the deep sea in an attempt to remediate the spill. The spill is also unique in that it has been characterized with an unprecedented level of resolution using next-generation sequencing technologies, especially for the ubiquitous hydrocarbon-degrading microbial communities that appeared largely to consume the gases and to degrade a significant fraction of the petroleum. Results have shown an unexpectedly rapid response of deep-sea Gammaproteobacteria to oil and gas and documented a distinct succession correlated with the control of the oil flow and well shut-in. Similar successional events, also involving Gammaproteobacteria, have been observed in nearshore systems as well.